Tuesday, October 26, 2010

On Poles and Lithuanians

Yet another shoddy, arrogant article in the Economist (http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2010/10/poland_and_lithuania&fsrc=nwl) appeared in the incorrectly defined Eastern approaches secton of the Economist.

> This has the potential to be a really nasty and
> damaging row, not least because it will make all
> the post-communist countries look like petty-minded nitwits.

Indeed? *All* post-communist countries? Like the erstwhile DDR (East Germany)? A more reasonable point of view is that the above assertion makes the writer of the Economist article look like an arrogant megalomaniac, petty-minded at that.

> (NB to Lithuanian MFA: please use spellcheck)

This is a little ironic. The first sentence of this Economist article is grammatically incorrect. "print edition carries a short sharp take on the " - comma missing between short and sharp. The second sentence uses the abbreviations for "et cetera" and "id est" without the required periods, i.e. as "ie" and not "i.e.", etc..

> As someone who knows and likes both countries
> (and as one of a handful of western observers with
> a working grasp of both languages) I find all this depressing.

This would evoke ridicule if it were not slighty pitiful. "Western"? Where is the author from? Portugal? Eileen Limerick O'Reilly from Ireland? Are there any Africans, Chinese or Mexicans who happen to speak both languages? None such? What of Russians, Poles or Lithuanians who speak both languages, along with English, and have lived in a city in the blessed West? Would their opinion as "observers" (of man? of our times?) count? What is a "working grasp"? Enough to write semi-literate articles in the equivalents of the Economist in Poland and Lithuania? Or enough to thank Svetlana for her services and to condescendingly instruct a waiter to keep the change, whilst tipping much more than what the natives would?

One regrets, and one is probably joined by all Poles, that our writer is subject to this bout of depression. Incidentally, that's not the only insight into his or her mental state that the author allows us ("I have a gloomy feeling that we may be heading for something similar"). Depression and gloom. Perhaps the Economist ought to organize neck-massage teams in their work-places. And some vodka. Ah, no, that's the stuff people in the East drink. Not for us Westerners, thank you very much.

> Both sides prefer myths to facts.

And the West (not to mention the Chinese, the Indians and the rest of mankind, throughout all ages) does not? All humans work with and revere myths. The author ought to stay away from metaphysics (the nature of truth). Especially when (see above) in his or her current state of mind.

> The issue is ripe for outside mediation.

Outside? Perhaps the author means "Western"? Or is the rest of humanity now allowed in too? Shall we let the Africans have a go?

1 comment:

Marek said...

Good and funny comment. While The Economist is still the best popular social/political/econ weekly, its treatment of Central-Eastern Europe is often amateurish. Cheers, Marek.